There are set of standards and policies that guide how people behave in the places of work. These form workplace or business ethics. The ethical viewpoints include utilitarian view, deontology ethics, virtue ethics and intuitionism. From the case in accounting department, there are various considerations in the analysis of the case. This paper looks at the viewpoints mentioned and analyze them in relation to the case where Mr. Jones is reported to be developing a workplace relationship with Ms. Smith.
Ethics in the workplace can be defined as the guidelines and policies that benchmark how the members of the organization should conduct themselves in their work relationships. Such guidelines and conduct include desired values such as respect and integrity. The approaches to workplace ethics include utilitarian view, deontology ethics, virtue ethics and intuitionism.
In utilitarianism approach, the focus is on the consequences of the choice of an individual’s action. The theory looks at the interest of others and not just an individual’s interest solely. The theory states that the best course of action is that which maximizes the benefit and minimizes the demerits (negatives). The view has been criticized for its lack of moral considerations in its implementation in many cases. In other words, as long as the benefits outweigh the negatives, the conditions of utilitarian ethics are satisfied. The approach has been modified and expanded to include the pleasure versus pain evaluation of actions. Modern view of the theory now examines the benefits in terms of economic benefits such as profits and quantified in monetary value. The deontology approach takes a deep look at the action in contrast to the result of the action. It is keen to ensure that the action is justifiable and morally correct. In most cases the duties are weighed by the adherence to the law of God.
The approach inspects the motivation behind the actions being done. As for the case of Ethical Intuitionism, the viewpoint is that the moral values are inherent and intrinsic. The approach posits that there exists real objective moral truths which are not dependent on human beings, indivisible and can be realized within the human mind (intuition). The main engine behind decisions in this approach are feelings, thoughts and attitudes. Finally, Virtue ethics evaluates actions in terms of character. The decisions and behavior of an individual is weighed against their character. It looks at the moral behavior. The approach looks at the bigger role played by behavior, character and virtue of the person committing the actions. It is concerned with ideal character traits. Virtue ethics is criticized for its self-centered nature. In addition, the factors that are needed to cultivate the virtuous traits are beyond the individual’s control.
In conclusion, the actions of Mr. Jones can be evaluated within the four approaches to the workplace ethics. Each approach will result in different verdict for the actions and conduct of Mr. Jones. It is recommended that in order to avoid bias in judgment of conduct against the business policies and guidelines, the individual whose conduct is in dispute, in this case Mr. Jones, be made to understand that the primary goal of the business is to make profits and that his primary role is to positively contribute to this goal by performing his duties effectively. In order to control ethical behavior and ensure performance of work, organizations globally have a duty to ensure that employees understand and consent to specified codes of conduct. Mr. Jones will be advised that his first responsibility is his service delivery expectations in the accounting department and that the job should not lag behind as he pursues personal ambitions. In other words, personal interests should not hinder the attainment of collective organizational goals.
Boatright, John Raymond. Ethics and the conduct of business. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. 2000. Print.
De-George, Richard. Business Ethics, Seventh Edition. Prentice Hall. 2010. Print.
Verbos, Amy Klemm, Joseph A. Gerard, Paul R. Forshey, et al. The Positive Ethical Organization: Enacting a Living Code of Ethics and Ethical Organizational Identity. Journal of Business Ethics, 76(1), 17-33, 2007. Print